- [SW Analysis] (stratfor ) Iraq War Plans I: Aims, Perceptions and
> Sep 09, 2002 :Posted on [05/19/07 04:28
> Iraq War Plans I: Aims, Perceptions and Issues
> Sep 09, 2002
> All wars begin with war plans. Behind all war plans
> are war aims. Normally, the simpler the war aim, the
> greater the likelihood of success. The United States
> has quite complex war aims compared to Iraq. This is
> due partly to the complexity of the mission and partly
> to the degree of confidence the American military has
> in itself. Paradoxically, the same operations that are
> the basis for U.S. confidence also are fueling an
> Iraqi sense of confidence.
> Clausewitz teaches that the best war plans are the
> ones with the simplest goals: In situations where
> there are complex goals, the best plans are those
> which can identify a single center of gravity, where
> success can be leveraged to achieve more complex war
> aims without the diffusion of forces and effort. The
> more war aims you have, the more difficult they are to
> achieve and the more likely they are to be
> contradictory and self-defeating.
> Therefore, the main goal is always to reduce the
> number of war aims to only the essential. Once this is
> achieved, a single enabling point -- a center of
> gravity -- must be identified that, if won or
> destroyed, will yield all other benefits.
> The problem with American war aims in Iraq is that
> they are numerous, and they are complex. Six distinct
> aims can be identified already:
> 1. Replace Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime with
> one compatible with American interests.
> 2. Maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq so that
> it remains a counterweight to Iran, and so that
> nationalist ambitions by ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq
> do not disrupt U.S.-Turkish relations.
> 3. Eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction
> by having total direct access to all of Iraq.
> 4. Change the perception of American effectiveness in
> the Islamic world.
> 5. Destroy collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda.
> 6. Minimize U.S. casualties.
> Aims 1, 2 and 6 stand in tremendous tension with one
> another. Replacing Hussein's regime inevitably will
> threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq, unless the
> United States directly commits massive forces. That
> risks rising casualties. But without ensuring
> territorial integrity, aims 3, 4 and 5 will be
> imperiled. This is the war-planning problem the United
> States must solve.
> The complexity of Washington's aims contrasts
> dramatically with Iraq's single goal: regime survival.
> For Hussein, the mere survival of his regime will
> constitute a victory. For the United States, simply
> destroying his regime does not guarantee success.
> For Washington to achieve all of its goals, it needs
> not so much the destruction of the Iraqi armed forces
> as the destruction of the senior leadership of the
> Hussein regime, and its rapid replacement by an
> authority capable of both maintaining control of
> Iraq's territory and securing its weapons of mass
> Therefore, the U.S. strategy must have two key
> elements: The first is the rapid isolation and
> destruction of Iraq's national command authority. The
> second is the rapid generation of a credible
> If the first goal is achieved without the second, then
> territorial integrity cannot be guaranteed, complete
> intelligence about and control of Iraqi WMD cannot be
> assured, al Qaeda's presence in Iraq cannot be
> eliminated and the perception of U.S. effectiveness in
> the Islamic world may not be enhanced. Any outcome in
> which regime destruction is not rapidly effected
> endangers the U.S. mission, as does any outcome in
> which regime destruction does not set the stage for
> rapid achievement of the other goals.
> Therefore, U.S. aims must be built on the confidence
> that the Iraqi national command authority can be
> rapidly eliminated, that an able command authority can
> replace it and that the Iraqi armed forces will not
> resist effectively.
> For its part, Iraq's war plans must be built upon two
> pillars: First, Iraq must assure that the regime can
> survive the initial assault. Second, as a deterrent,
> it must create conditions that reduce the likelihood
> that any of the other U.S. goals can be achieved if
> Washington does destroy the regime.
> All war plans are built on a core foundation: the
> perception of one's own capabilities and those of the
> enemy. In this case, it is vital to understand that
> both combatants will approach the war with fairly high
> estimates of their own capabilities. What makes this
> fascinating is that Washington and Baghdad achieve
> their perceptions through a reading of the same facts:
> The American Perception
> In recent years the United States has gained
> experience and confidence in power projection. In
> Panama, Kuwait, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan,
> the United States has been able to impose its will in
> extremely short time frames and with minimal
> casualties. With the exception of Somalia, which was
> driven by political rather than military
> considerations, the U.S. military has used its
> advanced technology, combined with small numbers of
> Special Operations troops supported by infantry for
> holding ground, to impose satisfactory low-cost
> solutions. The United States perceives Iraq as
> inherently unstable, with outmoded armed forces, and
> therefore ripe for a devastating attack.
> The Iraqi Perception
> Hussein has experienced defeat by the United States
> before and has survived. The Iraqis know that the U.S.
> military will open with devastating air attacks, but
> they think that they can survive those attacks and
> that the United States will decline a high-intensity
> conflict on the ground. From Iraq's point of view, the
> United States has failed consistently to achieve its
> political goals because it has been unwilling and
> unable to follow initial successes with sufficient
> ground forces.
> With the exceptions of Panama and Haiti, both in the
> Western Hemisphere, the United States has consistently
> failed to bring conflicts to definitive conclusions.
> In Iraq, the U.S. military seized a significant but
> peripheral region -- Kuwait -- while refusing to
> attack Iraq proper. In Afghanistan, the United States
> took control of the cities but refused to commit
> sufficient forces to impose a solution on the
> countryside. Where it has forces present, such as in
> Kosovo, it operates in a coalition that prevents
> effective imposition of power. The United States has a
> great opening game, but it has no follow-through.
> Therefore, the Iraqi view is that if they can survive
> the initial attack, the advantage will shift to them.
> Different Conclusions
> The same events cause the Americans and Iraqis to come
> to completely different conclusions. What is for the
> United States a model of effective military operations
> is from the Iraqi perspective a consistent record of
> unwillingness to bear the costs of follow-on
> operations. Obviously, these are some of the reasons
> why wars occur: If the United States didn't think it
> could take Iraq, it wouldn't try. If Hussein didn't
> think he could survive an attack, he would be looking
> for an exit strategy.
> Each side thinks it can win. This fact conditions the
> framework of this possible war. Each side also has a
> core operational problem that cuts directly to the
> heart of its war-making system:
> The Iraqi Problem
> Iraq has a substantial armored and mechanized force.
> It expects to lose its ability to communicate with its
> dispersed forces very early in the war. The logical
> solution is to delegate command and control authority
> to lower echelons. As the Americans destroy
> communications, regional commanders must be granted
> the authority to give orders to their forces without
> recourse to higher command.
> This military requirement flies in the face of Iraq's
> political system. Hussein's power is built on direct
> control of the armed forces and on minimizing the
> freedom of his regional commanders to maneuver. The
> U.S. military will take advantage of this. If regional
> commanders are left free to operate, Washington will
> attempt to reach political accommodations with
> commanders. This will neutralize their threat while
> retaining their power to support a new regime. If, on
> the other hand, Hussein refuses to devolve command,
> the armed forces will be paralyzed and destroyed.
> Hussein must solve this problem. He must devolve power
> while guaranteeing that his forces will use that
> authority to resist the United States.
> The American Problem
> A terrific argument is taking place within the U.S.
> Defense establishment, one that has been
> misinterpreted by the media as an argument between
> "hawks and doves." On the one side are those in the
> Air Force and the Joint Special Operations Command who
> argue that U.S. war aims can be achieved by using
> precision air strikes and Special Operations teams. On
> the other side is the U.S. Army, which argues that an
> attack on Iraq will require the commitment of multiple
> armored and mechanized divisions that alone can
> exploit the opportunities created by the Air Force.
> Two completely different models of war fighting are
> thus competing for supremacy. The Air Force/JSOC
> argument looks at a triumphant history of air warfare
> over the past 15 years or so. The Army, not dissimilar
> to Hussein's perception, takes a much more jaundiced
> view of these achievements. Those in the Army argue,
> for example, that the Air Force was much less
> effective in Kosovo than it claims and that only a
> heavy presence in Iraq can guarantee the broader war
> The United States must craft a strategy that chooses
> between the two sides. The tradition is that a
> compromise will be found, but this potentially could
> create a situation in which insufficient air power is
> used along with insufficient ground forces.
> The Dilemma for Both Sides
> The American war-planning dilemma is how to leverage
> its superb advantage in incapacitating Iraqi command
> and control systems into a strategy that achieves the
> enabler for all other war aims: control over an
> integrated, pacified Iraq without a war of attrition.
> The Iraqi war-planning dilemma is how to devolve
> command to lower echelons without allowing the
> Americans an opening for piecemeal negotiations that
> could lead to Iraqi capitulation.
> The American problem is this: If the expectation that
> regional commanders will capitulate is not realized,
> then the U.S. military will have a daunting follow-on
> task. Hussein is counting on three things:
> 1. His ability to confuse American intelligence will
> allow him and his senior commanders to survive the
> first assault.
> 2. The devolution of command will not lead to the
> capitulation of all regional forces and that some
> major attritional battles will be fought.
> 3. He will retain control over Baghdad through
> low-tech communications solutions, and that regardless
> of what happens in the countryside, the U.S. military
> will neither directly assault Baghdad nor will it be
> able, for political reasons, to impose an extended
> The United States must so disrupt Iraq's command and
> control system early in the campaign that Hussein or
> his successor will be incapable of any coherent
> resistance, but a disruption of this magnitude could
> result in such demoralization that mass capitulation
> takes place. The Iraqis must survive the first phase
> of the attack with sufficient capabilities in place to
> mount a defense of Baghdad and additional cities and
> regions, forcing the United States into an extended
> campaign that strains its coalition to the breaking
> point, places tremendous stress on logistics and
> manpower and, finally, creates a crisis of confidence
> in Washington.
> To put it simply, the United States is counting on a
> collapse of the regime in a sequence that permits
> Washington to avoid uncontrollable chaos. Iraq is
> counting on the failure of the United States to
> completely destroy its resistance and is expecting
> that the United States will repeat its history of
> ineffective endgames.
> In this chess game, the United States appears to have
> the first move. Washington is counting on the opening
> moves and the endgame to coincide. Hussein is counting
> on surviving the opening moves long enough to create a
> separate and distinct endgame.
> In STRATFOR's view, Washington has four basic
> strategic options that could stand alone or be melded
> into a combined strategy:
> 1. Operation Desert Stun: a sudden, overwhelming
> attack on the center using air power and Special
> Forces designed to force a rapid conclusion to the
> 2. Operation Desert Slice: a sequential attack on the
> various regions of Iraq designed to segment and
> stabilize the countryside, isolating Hussein in
> 3. Operation Desert Storm II: an extended air campaign
> designed to cripple Iraq militarily and economically.
> 4. Operation Desert Thunder: a multi-divisional
> armored and mechanized attack on Baghdad.
> If one thinks of these less as distinct operations
> than as potential components of a single plan, then
> the American strategy and Iraq's potential counter
> operations will unfold.